So gay/So not gay – the entertainment version


Is there such a thing as entertainment

gaydar? Recently I came across an old friend on Facebook, whom

I hadn’t seen in over a decade. Over the years, I’d wondered

if perhaps she was gay — and once she had added me as a friend,

I’ll admit that I clicked over to her profile, curious to see if there

would be anything about her sexual orientation there. While there wasn’t

anything explicitly stated, I did see with interest that she listed

The L Word
as one of her favorite shows, and Brokeback Mountain

and Chasing Amy as two of her favorite movies.

Now, entertainment gaydar,

like any other gaydar, is based on stereotypes — and thus is bound

to be somewhat unreliable. After all, there are plenty of straight people

who like both The L Word and Brokeback Mountain. (And,

actually, I think disliking Chasing Amy is probably a clearer

sign of being a lesbian than liking it.) Nevertheless, this whole episode

got me thinking about what a person’s tastes in entertainment may

or may not say about her sexual orientation. And, using the popular forum thread “I’m so gay/I’m

so not gay” as

an inspiration, I decided to see how my tastes would stack up in the

“stereotypically lesbianish” department.

To start off with the “I’m

so not gay” category (hey, I may as well get the bit that will make

me unpopular out of the way first):

1. I’ll admit it

— I don’t totally get the Tina Fey thing.

The fact that scribegrrrl,

Dorothy Snarker, and Sarah Warn are all fans is enough to

convince me that I must be missing something here — and who knows,

maybe one day I will see the light. But I’ve seen 30 Rock,

and the thing that amused me most about it was Alec Baldwin.

(Who, whatever else he may or may not be, is definitively not lesbianish.)

2. I don’t watch

The L Word.

The women on The L Word

may be gay, but I’ve discovered that that, in and of itself,

isn’t enough to make me identify with or deeply care about them. A

little good writing goes an awfully long way.

3. I think

Desert Hearts is a snooze-fest.

I get that it was hugely important

— particulary in 1985 — to see a movie where the women weren’t punished

or stigmatized for being lesbians. And I do think that Patricia Charbonneau’s

character is kind of cute. But to me, it’s almost like the filmmaker

was so caught up with showing Vivian and Cay as normal, healthy characters,

that she forgot to have anything much actually happen to them. The fact

that they fall in love, while great, is not really enough

to sustain a 96-minute movie.

4. I don’t — gulp

— actually find Ellen DeGeneres that funny.

On her old sitcom, yes. In

her Phone Call to God, genius. And — forgetting about

comedy for a moment and talking in terms of courage and integrity —

definitely. But when it comes to her current talk show, or her Oscars

hosting … well, truthfully: not so much.

5. Xena who?

I have never seen a single

episode of Xena: Warrior Princess. There, I said it.

Now, in the “I’m so gay”


1. Mariska and Katee are


In real life, I am vehemently

anti-gun, but one second of seeing Mariska Hargitay in Law

and Order: SVU
(cropped hair, long coat, tough as hell and weapon

at the ready) was enough to show me where her, um, ardent lesbian fanbase

comes from. Ditto one picture of Katee Sackhoff

in Bionic Woman.

2. I love watching Jodie

Foster, Kristy McNichol, Ellen Page, and Jo from

The Facts of Life.

Sigh. If only Family

had been shown on U.K. television when I was a teenager. I think I would

have come out instantly, just in the hopes that Kristy would wear a

tux and take me to the prom.


Bring It On made me gay(er).

Missy Pantone, you are truly

dykedelic. (Also in the “movies that made me gay” category, see

Girl, Interrupted

4. Lesbian subtext rules.

Yes, I will get interested

in an otherwise worthless program (Gossip Girl, I’m looking

at you), just because it seems like it might feature a little … extra

chemistry between the female leads.

5. No, I can’t take a


So, I confess — the militant

humorless stereotype is kind of true for me. I will even get annoyed

with my beloved Jon Stewart — despite all the pro-gay

points he has earned

over the years — if he makes a crack that I think is anti-gay or just


Are your tastes in entertainment

so gay, or so not gay, or a little of both?

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